Part 2

Fall fertilization in full swing
around Logan County

Now that the crops are out, fertilizer dealerships get back to work

[NOV. 2, 2000]  Logan County enjoyed a very bountiful harvest this year. But if area farmers intend to enjoy a bountiful harvest next year, they must start preparing their fields now.

[click here for Part 1]

Farmers have many options open for applying nitrogen. They can apply their total crop needs all in the fall, split the applications between fall and spring, or wait to do it all in the spring. They can also choose between applying ammonium sulfate, anhydrous ammonia, or liquid nitrogen at a 28 percent concentration. All decisions come with a different price tag and different environmental considerations.


Professional agronomists from the University of Illinois, along with fertilizer trade associations, encourage dealers like Herrin Fertilizer to follow strict environmental stewardship standards as they make fertilizer recommendations. The Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association says that application of fall nitrogen is the biggest stewardship issue facing the fertilizer industry at the moment. They are urging farmers to put off applying any kind of nitrogen source until the soil temperature at the 4-inch level is below 60 degrees with stabilizers or below 50 degrees without stabilizing agents. They have established a website at to inform farmers across the state of soil temperatures in their area.

Under warm, moist conditions, soil microbes are actively breaking down the ammonium form of nitrogen into nitrates. The nitrate form is very susceptible to leaching into groundwater after heavy rains move it down through the soil profile. When temperatures drop below 50 degrees, the microbial activity slows significantly, and unstabilized nitrogen stands a better chance to bond firmly to soil particles until spring.


Central Illinois farmers who choose to apply anhydrous ammonia in the fall are encouraged to add N-Serve nitrogen stabilizer to every load. N-Serve works against the soil bacteria that break down nitrogen into leachable nitrates. By using N-Serve, farmers can legally apply nitrogen when the soil temperature is higher than 50 degrees without worrying that all the usable nitrogen will be gone by spring.



[to top of second column in this section]

Anhydrous can be a very dangerous product for a dealership to handle. Physical contact with anhydrous can cause serious burns to the skin and eyes, while inhalation can seriously damage one’s lungs. Laws that regulate use of anhydrous ammonia are becoming tighter. This year, all farmers that are transporting anhydrous nurse tanks must carry permanent shipping papers with the tank ID number and weight.

Dealerships that handle anhydrous ammonia usually deal with some big headaches throughout the season. They must maintain the toolbars (application tools used to apply anhydrous into the soil). If the ground is hard, then toolbars are more likely to break. Now they must also be concerned with methamphetamine producers siphoning off anhydrous from nurse tanks to produce addictive drugs.

To eliminate some of these hassles, Herrin Ltd. promotes the use of ammonium sulfate as a nitrogen source. Ammonium sulfate is a byproduct of lysine production at ADM in Decatur and resembles a dark brown cooking oil. Since ADM has no use for the ammonium sulfate, they sell it for a cheap price to dealerships that are located near Decatur. Herrin Ltd. recently built a one-million-gallon tank to hold the product. The product has become popular with farmers because they can hire Herrin Ltd. to apply the ammonium sulfate for them. In years with higher fuel prices, this saves farmers a lot of money.

The final option for fertilization is liquid 28 percent nitrogen. This product either has to be rained on or mechanically worked into the soil within a week following application. Many farmers supplement their fall fertilization activities with 28 percent in the spring, since it can be applied with chemicals in one application round. Like ammonium sulfate, there is no real way to stabilize the nitrogen in 28 percent, so farmers must be extra aware of the environmental hazards of having too much rain on fields that have already been fertilized.

[Marty Ahrends]

Part 1

Fall fertilization in full swing
around Logan County

Now that the crops are out, fertilizer dealerships get back to work

[NOV. 1, 2000]  Logan County enjoyed a very bountiful harvest this year. But if area farmers intend to enjoy a bountiful harvest next year, they must start preparing their fields now.

At Herrin Fertilizer in Mount Pulaski, Rich Fulscher and John Bishop have been taking soil samples and creating customized fertilization maps for each of their customers’ fields. From the information on these maps, Rich and John are able to tell their customers how many pounds of nitrogen, phosphate, potash and lime should be applied to each acre this fall.


[John Bishop makes field maps at the computer.]

The soil fertility principles followed at Herrin Fertilizer emphasize that the pH must first be balanced to ensure that all other nutrients are working in harmony. The quick fix to neutralize high pH soils is ag lime. Spreader trucks with monstrous tires spread this white trail of dust across fields. Winter precipitation in the forms of rain or snow will break down the ag lime and enable it to start working on the soil.


Without pH balanced soils, other investments in nutrients are likely a waste of time and money. Fields with a pH that is too high or too low will later experience problems with availability of chemicals and micronutrients. If the pH is too high, chemicals might become too available for plant uptake and cause serious yield damage. Conversely, a low pH could keep a herbicide from working and allow weeds and grasses to interfere with growth of the crop.


[Rich Fulscher weighs trucks.]


[to top of second column in this section]

Liming is not necessarily recommended on every field every year. However, since high-yielding crops take a lot of key nutrients out of the soil each season, fall applications of nitrogen, phosphate and potash are standard fare. For example, a 50-bushel-per-acre soybean crop this fall removed 70 pounds of potassium and 40 pounds of phosphorus from each acre. Those nutrients must be replenished so that next year’s crop will be healthy.


[Soil thermometer]

Applying fertilizer in the fall helps eliminate the need to run heavy application equipment over typically wet fields in the spring, which creates serious compaction problems. Since fields are usually dry and firm in the fall, there is little concern that compaction will occur. Any compaction that does occur should be corrected by the normal wet and dry, freezing and thawing cycles that occur throughout the winter.


Just because the fields are fit doesn’t mean that dealerships like Herrin’s can apply lime and fertilizer every day. When the wind blows in excess of 15 miles per hour, all application of dry products must cease.

(To be continued)


[Marty Ahrends]

[click here for Part 2]


Hartem team places fifth in national FFA competition

[NOV. 2, 2000]  The Hartem FFA Ag Issues team placed fifth out of 27 teams at the recent National FFA Convention competition. The team members — Kate Wrage, Matt Duckworth, Sarah Struebing, Nick Reinhart, Anthony Jones, Nic Coers and Natalie Coers — presented a forum on genetically modified organisms.

The team advanced through the preliminaries and into the semifinal rounds. By going this far, the team ranked as a National Silver Emblem winner.

While at the convention, the team, along with Hartem FFA members Daniel Eeten and Brittney Kavanaugh, heard keynote speaker Debra Norville and witnessed the naming of the American Star Farmer and American Star in Agribusiness, besides taking time to tour the Agriculture Career Show.

[Left to right: Nick Reinhart, Natalie Coers, Anthony Jones
Kate Wrage, Sarah Struebing, Matt Duckworth and Nic Coers]

Lincoln Ag Center
1441 State Route 10 East
Lincoln, IL

We support!

Click here to visit our website!!!

Blue Dog Inn
111 S. Sangamon

Open for Lunch  Mon.-Sat.
Open for Dinner  Tues.-Sat.

Click here to view our
menu and gift items

25 Cents per Gallon
reverse osmosis water

The Culligan
Fresh Water Station

318 N. Chicago St., Lincoln

Back to top



Top Stories | Sports News | Sports Talk | Area Athletes in Action | Out and About | TechLine | Weather | Elsewhere

A Day in the Life... | Milestones | Obituaries | Diaspora

Business & Ag | Organizations | Events | Good Neighbors | Honors & Awards

Ombudsman | Law & Courts | Rural Review

Crosswords | Games

The Arts | Home and Family | Spiritual Life | Health & Fitness | Teaching & Learning | Book Look | Movies & Videos

Still Waters | The Hallway Buzz | What's Up With That? | Where They Stand | the em space
How We Stack Up | By the Numbers

Letters to the Editor | About LDN | Corrections | Happy Ads | Quick Coupon Clip-Outs